Here in Gaza, people are sending farewell messages to their loved ones

12:00 May 15 2021 Gaza

Here in Gaza, people are sending farewell messages to their loved ones Here in Gaza, people are sending farewell messages to their loved ones Here in Gaza, people are sending farewell messages to their loved ones
Hundreds of Palestinians attend a funeral for the Abu Hatab family in Gaza City, on May 15, 2021. Eight children and two women belonging to the family were killed after their three-story building in Shati refugee camp collapsed following an Israeli strike, medical sources said. (Mohammed Zaanoun/Activestills) Published by 972Mag

A Palestinian woman walks through the rubble following an Israeli airstrike, May 16, 2021. (Mohammed Zaanoun/Activestills) Published by 972Mag

A Palestinian man seen in his home after it was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike, May 15, 2021. (Mohammed Zaanoun/Activestills)
Published by 972Mag

I am writing to tell you that this struggle, before it is a political or historical or ideological struggle, is our human struggle. A struggle for our very humanity.

By Ismail for 972Mag
May 17, 2021

Saturday, May 15.

I’ve noticed a new phenomenon on social media in Gaza: people are sending their loved ones farewell messages before their death. I’ve seen status after status on my friends’ Facebook and Twitter pages, with messages such as: “If I have hurt any of you, I apologize, and if I owe anything to anyone, I will ask him to forgive my debt.”

I’ve noticed that some of my friends have been sure to include a verse from the Quran. A prayer that will “admit them into heaven.”

My God, what is happening here? The world disgustingly wonders who is wrong and who is right, who started and who ended it, and who is to blame.

Children are being killed and incinerated here, residential towers are completely destroyed, memories are erased. And yet, some people are still busy pointing the finger and writing to me: why did you not condemn one side or the other? As if that is what will stop the violence.

They write to me: “why not do so and so?” and “if only you had acted otherwise.” A relentless chain reaction that their logic engenders solely to justify cruelty, to silence the voice of the God weeping inside us and crying out: “This is wrong, what is happening is wrong.”

I cannot accept this. I cannot accept that you will see all the blood and cruelty in Gaza and will not care. That you are not willing to do a thing beyond settling for justifications that protect your military actions. The voice of Satan now rages within us.

I am writing to tell you that this struggle, before it is a political or historical or ideological struggle, is our human struggle. A struggle for our humanity, and all the complexity of man exists in it — beautiful and ugly. Do not get me wrong, I am not a righteous man or a proselytizer. I would not want you to see me like that. Sometimes, and especially when I am depressed, thoughts appear in my mind that the soul does not accept.

Last night, as the endless shelling took place around me, I felt a great helplessness. I asked myself: what can I do? Maybe I’m helpless. My voice will not change anything.

And perhaps what I’m writing is nonsense. It seems to me that the whole world speaks the language of power. Nothing in Gaza makes sense, and not only in time of war. The reality in Gaza is illogical before the war, illogical during the war, and illogical after the war. Will this conflict be resolved only when there is equal suffering, destruction, and victims on both sides?

What am I doing? I must not think this way. But this is how political and military leaders think. Do you see? Even I am not entirely innocent.

And yet, I do everything I can to keep the devil within me, and from this deep depression, from taking over me. I took a shower, washed my hands, prayed. It was pleasant. I held my phone and opened YouTube, listening to music that would distract me.

When I choose a song, I try to examine my feelings and adjust my choice according to them. I chose Sting’s song “Fragile”: Perhaps this final act was meant / To clinch a lifetime’s argument / That nothing comes from violence and nothing ever could.

In the political world, we are all numbers or strategic targets or collateral damage or victims or martyrs or heroes. These are dry descriptions, cold words that open an abyss between us and ourselves. Thus, we will feel pain and sadness for only a few minutes or hours or maybe a few days, and these terms will make us forget who we are. We will no longer be able to see the other, feel them — truly feel them — as any person pursuing peace and justice can.

And in the political world, one must choose a side and support it. If I were conducting academic or social research, I would think it was important for the research to be based on two sides and the voices of diverse people. But politics, dirty as it is, always requires you to choose. And why? Because if you do not choose, then you will not change anything. You will be weak. This is politics.

Gaza, despite its cruelty, has taught me many things. For example, when the voice of tribalism and nationalism intensifies, it is bad news, since the gentle voices of truth disappear — and only a great commotion remains. And to those of you who have the gentle voice, a voice of truth, I will say: I love you. And I know, these are difficult times. They will call you “traitors” devoid of national sentiment and try to make you feel inhuman. This is certainly not new. They, who close ranks and achieve their political targets, are convinced that they are smart. But their thinking will bring us only further destruction, and will cause us all to evaporate from this world, slowly.

A version of this article was first published on “We Beyond the Fence,” an independent media website covering Gaza. It was also published on Local Call. Read it here.

Ismail is a pseudonym for a 27-year-old journalist from Gaza who asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal.
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